5 Tips and Tricks to Remain Mentally Healthy in the Doldrums of Season

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr / Swimming Australia Ltd.

By Jacob Riley, Swimming World College Intern.

It’s that time of the year again, the time where most swimmers nationwide hit the stride in their training that brings them to what I like to call “the doldrums of season.” This is the point in the year when your skin dries out, you continually have a feeling of numbness from exhaustion, and your face bears the thousand-yard stare that non-swimmers do not understand. Here are five tips and tricks that can be used to combat the mentally challenging doldrums of season.

1. Stay hydrated.

Hydration is a crucial element to stay mentally healthy during the hard part of season. When you drink plenty of water and stay hydrated throughout the day, your body will be as efficient as it can be. In turn, this will help your mental health. We all like the occasional soda or juice (or if you’re me, more than occasional), but water is the way to go. It will help your performance in and out of the pool, and help you stay sane.

water bottle

Photo Courtesy: Andrew Pennebaker

2. Get enough sleep.

We have heard it before, but it’s always worth reiterating. Make sure you are getting enough sleep during season. A lack of sleep will negatively impact the way you perform in practice and in meets. The recommended amount of sleep is eight hours, but everyone is different. Find what works for you, and strive each day to get all of your business done with enough time to sleep. While students have homework and sometimes even jobs, it is important to strike a balance that includes enough time for shut eye.

3. Keep a good attitude.

It can be tough to stay positive during these doldrums of season, but this is one of the key things to keep in mind when you hit the point of exhaustion. It is a lot harder to maintain your mental health when all you have is negative thoughts running through your head. If you can continue to find the positive in things, you will get more out of training.


Photo Courtesy: Maddie Kyler

4. Listen to your body.

This is the time when training gets tough. Listen to your body if it is trying to tell you something. The hard work that you put in during the doldrums is important to going fast at your taper meet. But, you want to be able to swim at your taper meet, so listen to your body if it is hurting. Learn to distinguish between good pain and bad pain, but do not push through bad pain. Nothing is worse than having to sit out for part of your season.

5. Have fun.

This is what the sport always comes back to. Having fun is the key reason why all of us are still swimming. If you are struggling to stay focused during a tough set, think about racing someone during your fast meet of the year. Think of all of the fun you will have duking it out with the person next to you, and that will get you through that specific hard day you’re having. Having fun is critical to staying mentally healthy. If you’re not having fun, what’s the point?


Photo Courtesy: Melissa Lundie/Arena


Make sure to keep all of these in mind during the doldrums you’re either about to encounter, or are going through right now. If you keep these in mind, you will train better during these doldrums, and perform better at your fast meet.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.


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